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Margraves v. Ta Operating, LLC

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

December 10, 2013

DEBRA MARGRAVES, Plaintiff,
v.
TA OPERATING, LLC; and C.R. ENGLAND, INC., Defendants.

AMENDED MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

CHERYL R. ZWART, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the court on the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant TA Operating LLC's ("TA Operating). (Filing No. 48). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Debra Margraves ("Margraves") was a student driver for Defendant C.R. England, Inc. ("C.R. England"). (Filing No. 49, ¶ 3 at CM/ECF p. 2). At the time of the events in question, Margraves was in the second phase of her training which required her to complete approximately 15, 000 miles of on-the-road training with her mentor, Amani Clemons ("Clemons"). (Filing No. 58 at CM/ECF p. 2).

On February 4, 2012, as part of Margraves' training, Margraves and Clemons were driving through Nebraska in a semi-truck. (Filing No. 49, ¶ 7 at CM/ECF p. 3). The driving conditions became difficult due to a snow and ice storm. (Filing No. 49, ¶ 8, at CM/ECF p. 3). Margraves and Clemons determined it was unsafe to continue to drive, exited the interstate, and pulled the truck into TA Operating's truck stop at York, Nebraska (the "Truck Stop"). (Filing No. 49, ¶ 8 at CM/ECF p. 3). The Truck Stop complex covers 44 acres, contains multiple buildings and 250 parking spots for tractor trailer rigs. (Filing No. 50-2, ¶5 at CM/ECF p. 1 & Filing No. 50-4 at CM/ECF p. 8). Margraves and Clemons decided to park and wait out the storm at the Truck Stop. Although they had some initial trouble finding a parking spot due to the high volume of other trucks present, they were able to park at around 12:00 p.m. (Filing No. 58 at CM/ECF p. 3).

After parking, Margraves and Clemons decided to eat lunch at the Truck Stop's main building. (Filing No. 50-5 at CM/ECF p. 10). This required Margraves and Clemons to cross the parking lot - which was covered with some degree of snow and ice. (Id.). After eating, Margraves and Clemons returned to their truck and slept. (Filing No. 50-5 at CM/ECF p. 11). At about 10:00 p.m. Margraves again crossed the parking lot to use the Truck Stop's restroom. (Filing No. 50-5 at CM/ECF p. 11). She returned to her truck and slept the rest of the night. (Filing No. 50-5 at CM/ECF p. 12).

At some point, a third-party company responsible for snow removal at the Truck Stop sent a work crew to remove the snow and ice from the Truck Stop facility. These services generally involve the work of on-site plowing and the application of salt and other material to maintain the surfaces, with the assistance of employees of the Truck Stop.

Margraves awoke at 6:00 a.m. the morning of February 5, 2012, and started her truck so that the truck's bunk heater could charge. (Filing No. 50-5 at CM/ECF p. 12). She noticed it was no longer snowing outside, but she believed ice covered the Truck Stop parking lot. (Id.). Around 8:00 a.m. she left the truck to use the restroom. (Id.). On her return trip from the restroom, Margraves slipped and fell on the ice. (Filing No. 50-5 at CM/ECF p. 13). When she arrived back at her truck she informed Clemons that she was injured. (Filing No. 50-5 at CM/ECF p. 14). Clemons called 9-1-1, and an ambulance arrived shortly thereafter to transport Margraves to the local hospital for evaluation. (Id.) The examination revealed Margraves had a broken wrist. (Filing No. 50-5 at CM/ECF p. 15).

Margraves filed this action on July 25, 2012 and alleges her injury was due to TA Operating's negligent maintenance of the Truck Stop.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

"The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, giving that party the benefit of all inferences that may be reasonably drawn from the evidence. See Dancy v. Hyster Co. , 127 F.3d 649, 652-53 (8th Cir. 1997). It is not the court's function to weigh evidence in the summary judgment record to determine the truth of any factual issue; the court merely determines whether there is evidence creating a genuine issue for trial. See Bell v. Conopco, Inc. , 186 F.3d 1099, 1101 (8th Cir. 1999).

The moving party bears the burden of showing there are no genuine issues of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). However, "a party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986) (quoting First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co. , 391 U.S. 253, 288 (1968)) (internal marks omitted).

ANALYSIS

The parties agree the following elements must be proven to recover for injuries arising from conditions ...


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